In his first TV interview since being granted $100,000 (£76,000) bail in Chicago, singer R. Kelly emotionally claimed he was innocent of charges of sexual abuse.
On the CBS This Morning programme, he insisted that he was not guilty of 10 charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four women, three of whom were minors at the time.
The singer has faced decades of sexual abuse claims without being convicted, and has denied all previous allegations.
The history of allegations against R.Kelly
R Kelly is in a Chicago jail, after being charged with sexually abusing four females, three of whom would have been underage at the time of the alleged crimes.
The charges – which he denies – come a month after a revealing, six-part documentary, Surviving R Kelly, which shone a spotlight on allegations of sexual misconduct against the star.
The stories go back to the start of his career in the 1990s, with many centring around the predatory pursuit of teenage girls.
The star was himself the victim of child sex abuse, detailing in his autobiography how he was raped by a female family member when he was eight years old.
He said that “she did it repeatedly for years” and warned him to keep it a secret.
Here is a brief history of the accusations against him.
1994: Marries Aaliyah
The star, then aged 27, marries 15-year-old singer Aaliyah at a secret ceremony in Chicago.
Vibe magazine later discovered that Aaliyah had lied on the wedding certificate about her age, listing herself as 18. The marriage was annulled in February 1995.
For the rest of her career, Aaliyah dodged questions about the nature of her relationship. “When people ask me, I tell them, ‘Hey, don’t believe all that mess,'” she told one interviewer. “We’re close and people took it the wrong way.”
Kelly himself has rarely spoken about Aaliyah since she died in a plane crash in 2001. She is not mentioned in his autobiography, where his author’s note explains that “certain episodes could not be included for complicated reasons”.
In a 2016 interview with GQ magazine, he described their relationship as “best best best best friends”; but declined to comment on their marriage, saying: “I will never have that conversation with anyone. Out of respect for Aaliyah, and her mother and father who has asked me not to personally.”
1996: Sued for emotional distress
Tiffany Hawkins sues R Kelly for the “personal injuries and emotional distress” she suffered during a three-year relationship with the star.
In court documents, she said she began having sex with Kelly in 1991, when she was 15 and he was 24, and the relationship ended three years later, when she turned 18. According to the Chicago Sun Times, Hawkins sought $10 million in damages, but accepted a fraction of that amount ($250,000) when the case was settled in 1998.
2001: Sued by intern
Tracy Sampson sues R Kelly, accusing him of inducing her “into an indecent sexual relationship” when she was 17 years old.
The woman, a former intern at Epic Records, claimed she was “treated as his personal sex object and cast aside”.
“He often tried to control every aspect of my life including who I would see and where I would go,” she said in her legal case against him. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, said the New York Post.
April and May 2002: Two more court cases
Kelly is sued for a third time by Patrice Jones, a Chicago woman who claims he impregnated her when she was underage, and that she was forced to have an abortion.
A woman named Montina Woods also sued Kelly, alleging that he videotaped them having sex without her knowledge. The recording was allegedly circulated on an R Kelly “sex tape” sold by bootleggers under the title R Kelly Triple-X.
The star settled both cases out of court, paying an undisclosed sum in return for a non-disclosure agreement.
June 2002: Charged over child pornography
The star is charged with 21 counts of making child pornography, involving intercourse, oral sex, urination, and other sexual acts.
Chicago police accused him of videotaping each of these acts and enticing a minor to participate in them. All of the charges related to one girl, born in September 1984.
His arrest stemmed from a video which was sent anonymously to the Chicago Sun Times earlier in the year. They passed it on to police, who verified the authenticity of the tape with help from FBI forensic experts.
Kelly, who posted $750,000 bail, immediately denied the charges in an interview with MTV and later pleaded not guilty in court.
It took six years for the case to come to trial, during which time Kelly released his wildly successful Trapped In The Closet album; and was nominated for an Image Award by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), prompting widespread criticism.
The jury eventually concluded they could not prove that the girl on the tape was a minor, and Kelly was found not guilty on all counts.
2002 – 2004: Arrest prompts further charge
Kelly is charged with a further 12 counts of making child pornography in Florida, where he was arrested at his holiday home.
These charges came after police seized a camera during the arrest, which allegedly showed the star having sex with an underage girl.
The charges were dropped when a judge agreed with Kelly’s defence team that police lacked sufficient evidence to justify a search.
July 2017: Allegations of a “cult”
A long and detailed Buzzfeed report accuses R Kelly of trapping six women in a sex “cult”.
The article alleges that Kelly seduced young women when they approached him for help with their music careers, before taking control of their lives – dictating “what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records”.
The star also confiscated the women’s mobile phones, the report says, barring contact with friends and family.
The allegations came from three former employees and the parents of several women, who said their daughters had all but vanished.
Kelly strenuously denied the story which was written by Jim DeRogatis, who has doggedly covered the allegations against the singer for two decades, principally for the Chicago Sun Times.
All of the women cited in the article were of legal age; one later denied claims that she was being held against her will.
“I’m not being brainwashed or anything like that,” said 21-year-old Joycelyn Savage in a video call to TMZ. However, she would not reveal where she was speaking from, nor the nature of her relationship with Kelly.
R Kelly’s lawyer, Linda Mensch, also issued a strongly-worded denial, saying the star was “alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations” and would “work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name”.
2017 – 2018: Victims approach the press
Buzzfeed’s report prompts further allegations.
Jerhonda Pace broke a non-disclosure agreement to speak about having sex with Kelly while she was underage. Another woman, Kitti Jones, claimed the star had starved her, coerced her into sexual encounters with other women and physically abused her.
Kitti, along with other members of R Kelly’s inner circle, spoke to a BBC Three documentary in March 2018. One former friend and collaborator, Lovell Jones, said that Kelly asked him to scout out women “that looked young” at parties, and claimed that it was “common knowledge” that the singer preferred young girls.
Again, Kelly denied the allegations.
2018: #MuteRKelly, staff departures and new court case
The #MuteRKelly campaign lobbies record label RCA to sever ties with the singer. They also target concert promoters, tickets sellers and streaming services – with Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora all agreeing to demote Kelly’s songs from their playlists (a decision that is later reversed).
Around the same time, the star’s lawyer, publicist and personal assistant all quit – although attorney Linda Mensch said her departure was “unrelated to any allegations related to Mr Kelly’s social life.”
Kelly continued to perform live despite protests outside his shows; and was filmed saying the campaign against him was “too late”.
Meanwhile, the star was sued by a former partner who said he “intentionally” infected her with a sexually transmitted disease.
A representative for Kelly said he “categorically denies all claims and allegations”.
The star later baited his critics by releasing a song called I Admit, in which he confessed to being sexually unfaithful and his own experience of abuse – but denied accusations of paedophilia and operating a sex cult.
“Only God can mute me,” he sings defiantly. “Am I supposed to go to jail or lose my career because of your opinion?”
2019: New documentary leads to charges
Over the course of six hour-long episodes, Surviving R Kelly, presents the most comprehensive look yet at the allegations against the musician.
The final two segments are particularly harrowing, featuring stark testimony from his accusers, and footage of parents attempting to rescue daughters they haven’t seen in years.
While many of the stories are familiar, the documentary rams home the argument that Kelly was enabled by those around him.
“That’s the way it was,” says his former tour manager Demetrius Smith. “We worked for him. This is what he wanted and so this is what we were supposed to give him.”
Two weeks after the programme is broadcast, Kelly is dropped by his record company. Planned concerts in the US and New Zealand are cancelled.
In February, celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti says he has obtained a video showing Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl and submits it to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Chicago.
On 22 February, the star is charged in Chicago with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, involving four women, three of whom would have been minors at the time of the alleged crimes.
Kelly turns himself in to police the same day and is jailed with bail set at $1m – but struggles to raise the $100,000 bond needed to secure his release.
His lawyer Steven Greenberg says Kelly “really doesn’t have any money at this point” due to “mismanagement,” “hangers-on” and “bad deals”.
He eventually posts bail on 25 February, hours after appearing in court to plead not guilty. He is ordered to surrender his passport and any weapons, and to have no contact with anyone under 18 or his alleged victims ahead of the trial.
Kelly’s spokeswoman said she had “no knowledge” of the accusations.